Monday, July 19, 2010

Wrapping things up in WA State and moving on…

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Lauren and Charlene

This visit to Washington state was bittersweet for me.  In the first place, making the decision to live on-the-road full time takes a lot of mental adjusting, but coupled with the realization that you don’t matter as much to others as they matter to you might necessitate that you do even more mental adjusting.

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Left: Sandy and Gary in Victoria, Canada.   Right: Lauren, man enough to wear a skirt.

Lauren makes these wonderful paracord belts… everyone must have one of these. Check out his Facebook Page.  And while I watched he made my pink belt, plus he took a piece of wire and twisted a little motorcycle as a bead for my traveler’s necklace.  I’ll post a photo later.  A very talented man.  Oh and he gave me a small sculpture he made of a cactus… and cow skull… made of welding rods.

Visiting with Vandwellers Gary, Sandy, and Lauren were positive experiences for me.  They took time to be with me… because I matter to them, and I love them for that.  I got time to spend with them because I could not move on to Kirkland to see my son Rich until after July 4th due to a wedding he was attending.  After leaving Lauren in Silverdale, WA I headed across the Southworth, WA Ferry to visit with a friend in West Seattle, Moreah (who I used to rent a room from 12 years ago).  Great view of Mt. Rainier from the Ferry.

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Left: SwankieWheels on the Ferry; Right: Mt.Rainier in background.

Moreah wasn’t available when I arrived which was fine with me because Alki Beach is my favorite place to beach comb for beach glass.  So I found a place to park my rig along the Puget Sound waterfront and walked the four blocks back to the Alki Beach.  Spent about three hours there… a doin’ my thing… until the ol’ shoulder began screaming at me.  I returned to the rig to rest, take pain pills, get dinner, rest (ooopppps-I said that).  I left voice mail messages for the people I hoped to see.  I sent out a SPOT message so my son so he would know I was there and WHERE I was. Then I copied the link the SPOT sends out and posted that and emailed it… showing everyone where I was parked. I found something to watch on t.v. and settled in for the night… a night of listening to the surf slapping gentle on the shore a few feet from my van.

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Ring… it’s the phone.  It’s my son.  He asked if I was “Home.”  I told him I was always home.  It’s about 11pm by now.  He said he was coming by to see me.  So I watched t.v. a little longer and decided I should get up and put clothes back on.  KNOCK KNOCK on the van.  He must have called just a couple blocks from me… because he was already here.  We had a nice visit leaning against the railing overlooking the water, right next to the van.  Having just seen my granddaughter and dau-in-law at the Pirate festival, I had decided not to go to their home in Kirkland. Granddaughter Tori was packing to move out (for college), and they were packing up their stuff and painting the house in prep for selling it and “smallering down.” 

Anyway, just as Rich arrived the phone ran again, and it was Moreah.  I told her Rich had just arrived and we agreed to talk by phone in the morning and arrange a time and place to meet then.  I was surprised to learn that my son, Rich, doesn’t read my SPOT notices (which I pay $195 a year to be able to provide him and his brother with updates of my location so they won’t worry)!!?  Who am I kidding?

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Morning arrived… and I was down to three people I wanted to see before leaving WA state.  Met Moreah, showed her my rig… she was so impressed that she was taking notes about Vandwellers and how to contact them.  Said she would sure like to hook up with someone and travel with them for a month or so.  She is living SO green she hasn’t had a car in 15 years (I think that’s what she said).  We then walked four blocks to where she does Yoga and I did Yoga for the first time in my life.  It was difficult but seemed like it would be good physical therapy for my shoulder.  I left her there at the gym where she planned to work out… and walked back to my van to head out to see Conde.

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Conde is taking sewing lessons and we planned to meet at the Quality Sewing Shop which was also having a BBQ that afternoon.  She gave me the address and after driving around that location for an hour and not finding the shop, I got on line and got the Shop’s phone number and called them.  Yes that’s the place… and they gave me the CORRECT address and directions – over a mile away from the address Conde gave me.  CONDE!!!!!   (If’n you don’t want to see me, just say so… don’t send me on some darned wild goose chase for a bad address.) All kidding aside we had a nice visit at the shop, ate too much, laughed and worried all the others around us with our cutting up.  I could not go to her house to visit because she has adopted three cats in the past year or so.  Yuk.  Wish I could have seen her husband and son as well.  More on Conde.

I pulled myself away from my friend and headed toward Wenatchee to visit son Chris and his family.  Laid over at Vandweller Suanne’s house in Fall City, WA.  Her hubby fixed breakfast for me the next morning and sent me on my way.  What a guy.  Thanks Suanne and John.  Breakfast was fresh eggs from John’s chickens and homemade sausage, toast and watermelon. Yum.

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Arriving in Wenatchee on the hottest day of the year (7/8/2010), I found myself sitting in a Wal-Mart parking lot for six hours waiting for my son Chris to return from an afternoon with friends (I understand swimming was involved and boy would that have been nice). I saw some little boys across the street hosing each other with a garden hose and almost went over and ask them to get me wet. The temp in the van got up to 100 degrees F and so I headed for my son’s house so I could sit out on the porch… and wait for them to come home.  Finally, I got to see Will (age 3 months).  What a cutie.  He looks like his Uncle Rich (below Will on left, Rich on right). 

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Left: William James Bailey; Right: Richard St. Clair Bailey being held by his great-grandma Olive Smith.  Olive is Will’s great-great-grandma.chris002Will’s daddy, Chris.hazel_bud_hal wenatchee_two 011

Grandpa, Harold Bailey,held by his dad Bud Bailey.  Right: Will.  I dare anyone to say they don’t look alike.

Visited about an hour when the babies got put to bed.  The night air had finally cooled off enough that I could sleep and I had a parking spot where I could leave some doors open.  Next day (7/9/2010) I got to visit the babies some more.  Didn’t get a good photo of Jenelle, that I could publish.  Sorry Jenelle.  Send me one to add here.

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A china doll for Zoey and a “rock egg.”  She was gonna go put it in the chicken coop laying boxes.  She is so cute.

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A book from Grandma (she is still clutching the rock egg). Is he cute, or what?

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Matching haircuts. Grandma and Will (he saying… “don’t touch me!”

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Zoey is so sweet and tender to her little brother… and he watches her.

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Spankie retires to live at Zoey’s.

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Awh… nothing like a swimming pool on a hot July day!

My son, Chris, has given up being a commercial pilot (where he was away from the babies about four days a week), to become a farmer, he wanted to  be there for his growing children that much.  He has 3/4 acre planted and preps his veggies and takes them to the local Farmer’s Market. 

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His presentation of his produce is very fine… and so people are drawn to him… and he sells out each time.  Some neighbors (substitute grandparents for my grandkids)… come over and help him clean and package his product.  They joke “We work for food!”  Chris gets up at 4:30am to go tend his crops, so he can return home before the heat of the day and “be daddy.”  I have never doubted that he would be successful at anything he ever decided to do.  He’s a gem (but I learned that he also doesn’t check my SPOT messages – so guess I can save myself $195 a year??!!).

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Getting set up to package his produce.  Zoey helps.  The neighbors help.

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I helped as well until my shoulder began hurting too much.  About 2pm when the babies went down for naps… I decided it was time to leave.  My son walked me to the van… and I was off again.  It was sad leaving them without getting all the photos I had hoped for and without having a good visit with my son. 

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 They are just so darned cute.  Can’t wait to see them again.

Jenelle and Chris… you are great parents.  Thanks for giving me to beautiful grandchildren.  I’m looking forward to watching them grow.

I then headed to Spokane and I had learned that Conde’s son, Adam, was there working with a friend who vends at shows and events.  That didn’t work out and I didn’t get to see him… so managed to keep driving and got up into the ID mountains where it was cooler, before bedtime.  I was in a lot of pain… from cleaning veggies and picking Zoey up a couple times.  I needed to get some relief and to get cooled off.  This morning (Sat. 7/10/2010 – it was only 65 degrees inside the van). I got a fairly good night’s sleep, in spite of the traffic whizzing past me.

Why was my visit to Washington state bittersweet?  This is difficult to put words to.  I wanted to see everyone I saw, but I wanted more.  Gary, I wanted to do more with you… maybe kayak Crescent Lake… but I understand your role as landlord and besides… my surgeon wants me to give the shoulder more time.  Lauren, you are amazing… wish I hadn’t been so antsy to see my kids and grands.  I’ll get the compass mounted… and the belt loop will catch up with me one day.  Moreah, you are still a hoot.  Hope you had a good workout after I left.  Wish I could have seen some photos of Kayla.  I can’t believe our granddaughters are teens already.  We sure had fun together when they were smaller… the Balloon Man in your backyard, the girls signing tunes on Kayla’s front porch, the trip to the Zoo… so much fun.  Wish the girls could see each other again.  They both swore back then they would be singers.  Well, Tori is a singer… I forgot to tell you that.  Boy can she sing. And Conde… well, there’s nothing left to say about Conde… I’ve said it on the linked page.  I’m glad we had a nice long visit.  Tony… sorry I missed you.  And Adam… well, as always… I wish you all the luck in your future.  Sorry we couldn’t meet up in Spokane as I drove through there last night.  You should have made time to see me.  I was so looking forward to a visit with you.

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  So… here’s why is was bittersweet… spending time with others requires a commitment of time to plan and carry out. And wanting more than others can give me… is bittersweet. It’s a continuation of my old habits… doing for others, being there for others, trying to keep others in my life.  It takes a lot of energy and each year it seems to take even more out of me.  I think this is the last year (or month) that I’ll being doing that.  Now I’m just going to travel… and if others happen to be on the same path at the same time we will meet.  In a couple years I might consider being closer to grandkids Zoey and Will on a more regular basis.  For now… I just need to be free.  I’ve never had that in the past… true freedom.  I feel tired and exhausted.  How can you want more (I think I could spend all day everyday with Zoey and Will) and want less at the same time.  I don’t know the answer… and don’t need to know it right now…. Just accept it for what it is and live NOW.

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Heading across Eastern Washington, it was a Microsoft kinda day.

I think more of us should do that… live for ourselves in the NOW and stop giving up so much of ourselves for the benefit of others.  I know that goes against what most of us were brought up to do… but that’s what I think.  It’s just my opinion.


  1. Well, I think Spokane has some beautiful sight seeings. If you're ever to drive by Spokane, stop by our physical therapy Spokane clinic.

  2. Charlene, I am glad it worked out for you to overnight at our place. I know John enjoyed the company. Be safe out there and hope to see you down the road. Suanne

  3. first off, that Will has the cutest smile i ever saw in a baby! your whole family is something special, you are fortunate to have them. i think i understand some of the bittersweet. i have had some hard times, with all the changes in the last few years, figuring out my place in the circle of things.....sorta lonely at times. but like you said, the freedom to be who i am and do the things i longed to do is powerful.....

  4. Charlene, Glad I found your blog. I'm a woman of a certain age who has been living the life I chose on a whim at age 18. I've stuck with it, but I'm preparing to leave it, go on the road and see where life takes me. My goal is out and gone by 2013.

    I don't think anyone believes I'll really do it because I haven't done anything this "selfish" for years and years.

    I'll be enjoying your blog until I can get away.


  5. Katie and Suanne... thanks.
    LG - be "selfish"... thank you for following me.
    PAUL... Paul... why didn't I see this before I drove through Spokane. I could use some professional advice on what PT I could be doing to help my arm/shoulder. Now trying to arrange to be seen at the Urgent Ortho Clinic in Missoula. My surgeon suggests I get in to see someone. I have all the photos from the surgery, and the surgery report... so hoping someone can help me get some relief from this pain. I'll be sure to stop next time I'm in Spokane. If you have any strings in Missoula... would appreciate you pulling them for me.


Who is Swankie?

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Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
Visit me on In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles in Spring 2017. In training now for the hike.